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Public Statements

Death Gratuity Payments

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, today I wish to express my deep disappointment at our failure to adequately provide for our fallen heroes and their families.

Once again, we learn that we have suffered recent casualties. And since the government shut down last week, the Department of Defense has been unable to guarantee full benefits and honors to those servicemen and women who have been killed in the defense of our Nation.

Among those who have given their lives in service of our Nation in recent days are two Army Rangers assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, headquartered at Fort Benning in my home state of Georgia.

These elite soldiers were serving on the front lines in Afghanistan, fighting for democracy and our American way of life when they made the ultimate sacrifice.

I have since been informed that the Department of Defense believes it lacks the authority to make automatic Death Gratuity Payments, to transport the next of kin to Dover Air Force Base so they can receive their fallen warrior, and to provide funeral allowances for the appropriate military honors.

This is simply unacceptable, and it is incumbent upon us to fix this.

It has been my great privilege to visit Fort Benning and meet with the members of the 75th Ranger Regiment over the years.

They live by the motto that ``Rangers Lead The Way,'' and they serve our country regardless of Federal funding, domestic politics, or government shutdowns.

That is exactly what these brave individuals did in Afghanistan, and unfortunately it is our lack of leadership in Washington that has created undue hardship and stress for their loved ones in their toughest time of need.

I understand that our colleagues in the House of Representatives are expediting legislation to provide explicit authorization to the Department of Defense to correct this oversight.

The Senate must act immediately on receipt of that legislation.

We owe this much to these brave men and women, their families, and the thousands of military members who continue to serve in harm's way.

I regret that the President has not taken this issue seriously enough to take action on his own to resolve this problem.

I remain confident that the Senate will take proper actions, and I look forward to passing this legislation as soon as possible.

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